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Author Topic: HMS Opossum (1808 - 1819)  (Read 3682 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: HMS Opossum (1808 - 1819)
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2017, 20:28:47 »
Updated with plans and more pictures...
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Bilgerat

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HMS Opossum (1808 - 1819)
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2012, 21:35:13 »
HMS Opossum was a 10-gun Cherokee Class brig-sloop, built under contract by Edward Muddle at Gillingham. She was one of only two warships built by him for the Royal Navy, although two mooring vessels and a hoy were also built at Gillingham for the Royal Navy. Edward Muddle's shipyard at Gillingham stood at the bottom of Gads Hill, on the current site of the The Strand Boatyard.

The Cherokee Class were the most numerous class of warship ordered by any navy at any time in the age of the wooden sailing ship, with 115 vessels being ordered in three batches between 1808 and 1826. Of all the vessels ordered, 104 were actually built. The Cherokee Class gained an unfortunate reputation and were known as 'Coffin Brigs' on account of the fact that of all the vessels built, fully a quarter of them foundered or were wrecked. Flush-decked with a low freeboard, their main deck was frequently flooded in heavy weather and the high loss rate is now put down to their being too small for the global deployments they were often sent on. The most famous member of the class was HMS Beagle, in which a young Charles Darwin sailed and the observations he made were eventually to lead to his writing and publishing 'On the Origin of Species'; his theory of evolution by natural selection. For this voyage, HMS Beagle was refitted with a raised forecastle and quarterdeck to improve her seakeeping and a Three-masted Barque rig, with square sails on the fore and main masts only.

The contract for the construction of HMS Opossum was signed on 31st December 1807 and the vessel was launched on 9th July 1808. As completed, she was 90' long at the main deck and 24' 6" wide across the beam. She was armed with 8 18pdr carronades on her main deck and 2 6pdr long guns in the bow. Fully loaded, she was a vessel of 235 tons and had a crew of 75 men.

Cherokee Class Plans

Lower and Main Deck Plans and Inboard Profile and Plan:



Framing Plan:



Sheer Plan and Lines:



A replica of HMS Beagle under construction at the Nao Victoria Museum in Punta Arenas, Chile, in March 2013. The truck gives scale:



Approaching completion in February 2016. Note the raised quarterdeck and forecastle. HMS Opossum would have been without these features:




On commissioning, the vessel was engaged in the typical duties of a small sloop of the day, those of convoy escort and patrolling the enemy's coastline close inshore. For such a small vessel, she escorted convoys on remarkably long journeys. HMS Opossum is shown to have escorted convoys to and from the West Indies.

On one of her patrols, in company with the 38-gun frigate HMS Surprise, the 12-gun schooner HMS Elizabeth and the 16-gun brig-sloop HMS Spider, she took part in the capture of the enemy vessel Lark on 13th March 1813.

On the night of 2nd September 1816, HMS Opossum ran aground on Sable Island, whilst en-route to St. Johns, New Brunswick. Mr John Hay, Master and Commander in HMS Opossum ordered that the vessel's guns and stores be thrown overboard to lighten the ship. This drastic action saved her and she was floated off the following day. John Hay went on to be promoted to Captain on 7th December 1818 and was knighted in 1837.

On 21st July 1818, HMS Opossum paid off at Portsmouth. She was sold out of Royal Navy service on 3rd February 1819.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

 

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